CNN has been slammed over its ‘softball’ town hall with Joe Biden after Anderson Cooper asked what it was like to live in the White House but failed to hold the president accountable when he falsely said there was no vaccine when he came into office.
The 75-minute town hall hosted by CNN and Cooper in Milwaukee on Tuesday night was Biden’s first since becoming president.
Furious social media users have accused Cooper of only asking Biden softball questions about his COVID-19 response and a few other policies, including minimum wage, student loan debt, immigration and reopening schools.
One social media user called the town hall a ‘total dumpster fire with Biden gaffes, lies, racism and overall awkwardness’.
They pointed out that Biden faced almost no interruption from Cooper while answering the questions put to him. There was also minimal follow-up on his responses.
The 75-minute town hall hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper in Milwaukee on Tuesday night was Joe Biden’s first since becoming president
None of the audience members who were called on to ask Biden questions were Republicans.
The questions that were asked by the audience came from Democrats or independents, including some of said they voted for Donald Trump in 2020.
Critics were quick to point out that Cooper failed to call out Biden for saying that there was no COVID-19 vaccine when he took office.
Social media users, including former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, seized on the remark and accused Biden of blatantly lying given he was vaccinated prior to the inauguration.
‘When you and I talked last, we talked about – it’s one thing to have the vaccine, which we didn’t have when we came into office, but a vaccinator – how do you get the vaccine into someone’s arm? So you need the paraphernalia. You need the needle, and you need mechanisms to be able to get it in. You have to have people who can inject it into people’s arms,’ Biden said.
The president had just moments earlier acknowledged that there were 50 million doses available when he took office.
Some on social media explained Biden’s false vaccine as a verbal stumble.
Despite this, Cooper did not follow up on Biden’s statement, instead only saying: ‘That’s been one of the problems is just getting enough people’.
McEnany was quick to tweet: ‘Biden says there was no vaccine when he came into office. That is abjectly FALSE. President Trump brought about the fastest vaccine for a novel pathogen in history. How does Joe get away with this?’
Another social media user said: ‘Considering Biden received both doses of the COVID vaccine before being sworn in, this seems like a very obvious lie.’
Despite much of the town hall being dedicated to COVID-19 and his response, Biden wasn’t asked about the scandal involving Democrat New York Gov Andrew Cuomo and the state’s nursing home deaths.
Cuomo, who Biden has repeatedly praised for his handling of the pandemic, is facing increasing scrutiny over what he knew about the death toll inside New York’s nursing homes.
Biden was also not asked about the resignation of White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo after it was revealed he threatened to ‘destroy’ a Politico reporter who was pursuing a story about his relationship with an Axios journalist.
The resignation came just weeks after Biden had vowed to fire any employee who treated someone else with disrespect. Ducklo had initially only been given a one-week unpaid suspension.
Social media users accused CNN and Cooper of failing to address any of these issues during the town hall.
‘CNN and Biden team up for another ‘softball’ town hall loaded with questions like ‘what’s it like to live in the WH’? Ignores asking about Cuomo nursing home scandal, increased illegal border crossings, confusing Mideast policy and so much more,’ one person tweeted.
Another said: ‘No Republicans asked questions at Biden town hall. What was the point of that town hall with softball questions? He could have just been on Anderson Cooper show virtually like his whole campaign.’
‘What happened on the town hall stage tonight was a PR nightmare and an international embarrassment, but we’ve been so numbed and desensitized for so long to this absolute circus that it’ll be forgotten by morning,’ another said.
Social media users also pointed out how the end of the town hall was dedicated to Cooper asking Biden what it was like living in the White House and was it different to what he was expecting.
Cooper also asked Biden at one point: ‘Have you picked up the phone and called any former president yet?’
Biden, without naming Trump, said he had spoken to all but one living former president.
He had earlier said: ‘I’m tired of talking about Trump’.
ANDERSON COOPER’S ‘SOFTBALL QUESTIONS:
‘You have, over the years — over your career, you’ve obviously spent a great deal of time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, except now you’re living there and you’re President. It’s been four weeks. What’s it like? How’s it different?’
‘Have you picked up the phone and called any former president yet? Do you want to say who?’
First question: ‘When is every American who wants it going to be able to get a vaccine?’
Follow up question: ‘When you say ‘by the end of July,’ do you mean that they will be available or that people will have been able to actually get them?’
First question: ‘Well, let me ask you, you — your administration had set a goal to open the majority of schools in your first 100 days. You’re now saying that means those schools may only be open for at least one day a week.’
Follow up question: ‘So when do you think that would be — K-through-8, at least five days a week if possible?’
‘Let me ask you, just for folks who are watching out there — there are a lot of people who are scared, and there’s a lot of people — who are hurting. When do you think this pandemic is — I mean, when are we — when is it going to be done? When are we going to get back to normal?’
‘You’ve made passing a COVID relief bill the focus of your first 100 days. Those on the right say the proposal is too big; some on the left say it’s not big enough. Are you committed to passing a $1.9 trillion bill, or is that final number still up for negotiation?’
First question: ‘Before the Senate voted to acquit the former President in the impeachment trial, you said you were anxious to see if Republican senators would stand up. Only seven did. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the rest ‘cowards.’ Do you agree with her?’
Second question: ‘Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the former President is, quote, ‘still liable for everything he did while he was in office.’ If your Department of Justice wanted to investigate him, would you allow them to proceed?’
First question: ‘Let me ask about — a question which does often divide many people in this country: immigration.
‘Your administration, along with congressional Democrats, expected to unveil an immigration reform bill just this week. You want a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants. Would you sign any immigration bill if it did not include that: a pathway for the roughly 11 million undocumented?’
Follow up: ‘But just to be clear, though — and I know you’re going to be announcing stuff later this week, or that’s what I’ve heard — you do want a pathway to citizenship.’
First question: ‘You just talked to China’s President, I believe. What about the Uyghurs? What about the human rights abuses in China?’
Follow up: ‘When you talk to him, though, about human rights abuses, is that just — is that as far as it goes in terms of the U.S.? Or is there any actual repercussions for China?’